Policing biosecurity: police enforcement of special measures in New South Wales and Victoria during the COVID-19 pandemic

Louise Boon-Kuo, Alec Brodie, Jennifer Keene-McCann, Vicki Sentas, Leanne Weber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

In this article we consider the enforcement of COVID-19 measures as an instance of security policing, characterised by a pre-emption paradigm. Whilst COVID-19 measures are directed towards the goal of ‘biosecurity’ to stop the spread of the disease, in practice, COVID policing appears to rely on long-standing criminalisation strategies at odds with public health. Drawing on a range of primary and secondary data sources, we provide a critical account of the policing practices used and the groups to which the special measures have been directed in the most severely affected states of Victoria and New South Wales. We consider the implications of the securitisation of public health through the use of policing. Although we identify the potential for expansion—whereby population groups that do not usually attract police attention are drawn into contact with police—our case studies reveal that COVID policing as practiced in those contexts intensifies existing patterns of public order policing directed towards the ‘usual suspects’ and reinforces a criminalisation rather than a public health paradigm.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalCurrent Issues in Criminal Justice
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Externally publishedYes

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